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Monday June 1, 2009 - 14:18:04 GMT
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Economics Weekly - BoE and ECB interest rate decisions, US employment report due

Economics Weekly - 1 June 2009


BoE and ECB interest rate decisions, US employment report due

The Bank of England (BoE) and the European Central Bank (ECB) are expected to leave interest rates on hold at their monthly meetings on Thursday, and we expect neither of the two Banks to make changes to previously announced non-standard credit easing measures. In the US, we expect the rate of decline in employment to have slowed in May for a second successive month, but the unemployment rate is forecast to have risen above 9% to the highest level since September 1983.


􀂄 BoE MPC members have been reining in optimism about economic recovery, warning that the path back to growth will be long and is clouded by an unusual degree of uncertainty. Leading indicators of economic activity have arguably started to improve in Q2 and point to an easing in the rate of contraction in gdp, but MPC officials remain wary of the many potential pitfalls ahead. These are mainly attributed to the bleak backdrop for employment, business investment and household spending. The BoE only last month said it was expanding its Asset Purchase Facility to £125bn and with this in mind we do not expect the Bank to make any new announcements on the APF this week, or make any changes to Bank rate. Our latest forecast is for rates to stay on hold until the end of 2010.


The May PMI indices of activity in manufacturing and services sectors will be important in judging whether the rebound in the indices off the Q4 2008 lows can be sustained and whether companies are experiencing a real improvement in demand. The rebound of sterling, weak exports orders and the rise in crude oil prices above $60pb could mitigate some of the market optimism that business conditions are brightening. Thus far, confidence that the economy is stabilising is based on a more orderly functioning of credit markets (3-month Libor fell to 1.28% last week) and on the prospect that the liquidation of inventories may soon end. The manufacturing PMI, due on Monday, is forecast to edge up for a 3rd successive month to 43.8. The services PMI, due on Wednesday, is forecast to reach a 9-month high of 49.2, closing in on the 50-level which separates expansion from contraction. Mortgage lending and consumer credit data are due on Tuesday and PPI data are due on Friday. Separately, the DMO will auction £2bn of the 4.25% 2049 gilt on Tuesday and £3.5bn of the 4.5% 2019 gilt on Wednesday. The BoE will offer to buy £6.5bn of gilts, maintaining the pace of its recent purchases.


􀂄 Confidence that the US economy may have passed the worst received a boost last week from stronger than expected outcomes for May consumer confidence, April durable goods orders (March revised down) and existing home sales. However, participants are heeding reports of higher housing inventories and signs of ebbing mortgage applications as long term yields and mortgage rates rise. Participants will assess the current state of the economy on Friday when the monthly employment figures for May are published. A surge in consumer optimism in May and a modest improvement in the Conference Board survey of employment suggest that job losses may have slowed in May for a 2nd successive month. We look for a decline in non-farm payrolls of around 500,000 and forecast a rise in the jobless rate to 9.2%. April personal income and spending data and the May manufacturing ISM survey are due on Monday. The May ADP employment and ISM non-manufacturing surveys are due on Wednesday. Fed chairman Bernanke speaks on Thursday. No treasury auctions are planned.


􀂄 We expect the ECB to keep interest rates unchanged at 1%. This will put the thrust of the press conference on the updated forecasts of inflation and gdp growth for 2009 and 2010 and on details of the plan to purchase €60bn of covered bonds. GDP growth for 2009 is likely to be sharply scaled back from the March estimate of -2.6%, but revisions to inflation are not guaranteed following the sharp rise in spot and future crude oil prices above $60pb. The final May manufacturing and services PMI surveys are due on Monday and Wednesday, respectively.

Kenneth Broux, Economist, Corporate Markets


Economic Research,
Lloyds TSB Corporate
10 Gresham Street,
London EC2V 7AE
0207 626 - 1500


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